"You are nostalgic for an England that does not exist anymore.”
My husband said these words to me last year after I’d waxed poetic about the blog of Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse, a woman who resides in an English country village, enchanting her readers not only with pictures of her handmade crocheted and sewn items but also with images of her speckled bantams, of homemade cakes dripping with honey from the beehive in her yard, and of her English country garden. I passed these comments on to Mrs. T (a moniker she uses to refer to herself), and she seemed intrigued, so much so that when I was finally able to meet her in the flesh a little over a week ago, she and her husband seemed quite determined to prove that the charming England of my childhood storybooks, 19th century novels, and BBC costume dramas is not a bygone memory.
After passing nearly a week in the English countryside with the Tittlemouses (Tittlemice??) I have to say that the England I knew through literature and film--one of hedgerows and teatime, magic and fairytales, and quirky aristocrats and folksy villagers--still exists, if one looks beyond the frantic hubbub of the city and slows down enough to savor it. My experience spending the week before my visit living and learning at Christ Church in Oxford also confirmed this sentiment.
Views from a Week in Oxford
|In this world, Beauty lurks behind ancient walls.|
|And the hall looks like this.|
|Here a library is beautiful and mysterious, with nary|
a computer in sight.
|Fireplace screens display fantastical creatures.|
|And a walk in a garden in the surrounding countryside has a|
|In this place, even pigeons have a quaint, cozy home. |
|A kitchen garden is a work of art.|
|And nature gilds everything.|
Views from a Visit in Oxfordshire
|Thatched cottages still exist.|
|Cows are plump and sleek and inquisitive.|
|And most are convivial and want to join in on the fun.|
|Medieval churches dot the landscape.|
|And eccentric clothing doesn't seem out of place. |
(I sported this garb at Jane Austen's Chawton Cottage, a place, as a Janeite,
I've always wanted to visit.)
|Here bells from a faceless clock created in 1525 measure out|
(This charming pincushion was made for me by blogger Judith
Hamid of I Read, I Sewed, I Crocheted.
Go to her blog to read a post about the lovely visit she and I and Mrs. T. shared.)
|Romantic possibilities abound in the landscape. |
(This is Downton Abbey! Well, really Highclere Castle--
the place where the BBC series is filmed.)
|An afternoon snack is a home-baked scone, slathered with clotted|
cream and homemade raspberry jam from fresh-picked
|Woolly lambs grow fleeces that will one day become snugly sweaters.|
|Whimsical handcrafted trains travel in the backyard.|
|And even church pews reflect artistry and imagination.|
|Iron Age mysteries lure us with their voices from the past. |
(Image is of Vale of the White Horse.)
|Here a walk in the countryside with a new friend provides easy companionship|
and awe at how common bonds unite us, even when we live in worlds miles apart.
(You can go to Mrs. T's blog to see a picture of us together.)